Hi, my name is Julia Indigo, and I’m a writer. Sort of… I mean, I am a writer, but that isn’t really my name; it’s close to it.
If you’d told me this time last year that I’d be 100,000 words in to the first draft of a novel today, I would have said that you were nuts. I never wanted to be a writer. I’d never even considered writing at all. I’ve been a professional classical musician my entire adult life, and I started playing music in the fourth grade. That profession has been my bread and butter ever since, though through increasingly leaner and leaner years. Thank you, Wall Street, for this collapsing economy. But I digress.
For whatever reason, long about February 2011 a character leapt into my consciousness, full-blown. Where he came from, I don’t know, but Steven is almost as real to me as my ex-husband is. My very best friend and sister-by-choice, Jennifer, is a writer and a marvelous poet; she sent me a handful of pages of her (unfortunately, stalled) novel back in late January. I was gobsmacked, but then a wee small voice spoke up “I wonder if I could do this, too?” In an instant I’d fired up my laptop, and BOOM, this man’s life poured onto the page, in a torrent.
Yep. It was a deluge. 40,000 words in just under a month, before I cried “UNCLE” and quit for a bit. I was hauling the Dell Mini everywhere with me, words pouring out of my fingers. I woke up in the morning and grabbed the iPhone and fired up the dictation app as I headed to the bathroom, because ideas were flying out of my head so fast that I would’ve never made it to rehearsal if I’d tried to type it all up. Steven went on walks with me, re-living his life story, episode by episode; I had to run back home and fire up the computer to brain dump that bit, in order to make more head room for subsequent ideas.
I read scene after scene to Jennifer, who encouraged me again and again to keep on writing. “What? Me? A writer?” “Yes,” she would say, “You are a natural! Keep going!” … so I did. Actually, it wasn’t as though I had much of a choice in the matter; I had to write. And the scenes were often out of sequence, one instant he’s twenty-two and in love, then next he’s thirty-nine and in the middle of an awful divorce, as I page to and fro through the manuscript to find the proper place in the chronology for the scene I just wrote.
And it is so much FUN! I absolutely adore writing – there is nothing more satisfying than putting fingers to keyboard to see what happens next.
By now the story of this man’s life covers almost 50 years, and I’m not done yet. I know that I’ll have to ditch much of what I’ve written, but that seems inconsequential to me right now. He’s having his way with me – his story WILL be told, one way or the other.
It’s fascinating to me that when I’m deep into writing, I can practically feel his presence. I’m a visual and tactile person – no, that’s not exactly right. I’m visual and kinesthetic, if that is an actual word. I can sense his energy.
Is his story worth telling? I think so. The bigger question is, will I be able to tell it in a compelling enough manner for his story to be published and sent out to the wider world? Perhaps. But until I pull up that file and start in again (it’s been over six weeks since I’ve written – life got in the way), we’ll never find out.
How have your stories come to you? Do you start with a premise, a scene, or a character like me? Do you write chronologically, or not? Do you outline first, then write scene by scene, or do you let the story take you where it will? Let me know in the comments, if you like.